NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We met the two newest Titans at team headquarters on Thursday.

Malcolm Butler is a self-made player who came into the league as an undrafted rookie, intercepted Russell Wilson to seal a Super Bowl XLIX win for the Patriots and became a key cog in the New England machine.

Dion Lewis was missed 2013 hurt and was out of the league in 2014.

Now they've got big-dollar contracts and are expected to be central figures in the next step of Tennessee's resurgence.

My video report:


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What Titans adding Dion Lewis could mean to Derrick Henry

NYJ101517 JM71 1NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The presumption when the Titans released DeMarco Murray was that Derrick Henry would assume the mantle as the team’s lead running back.

With Dion Lewis incoming as a free-agent acquisition, we may need to reassess.

Ultimately Mike Vrabel, Matt LaFleur and Tony Dews will determine deployment.

But in less than 24 hours after Lewis-to-Tennessee came to light, a film analyst, an analytics expert and a fantasy expert all looked at the move and concluded Lewis will, or should, get work on early downs, not just on third down.

(Dion Lewis photo courtesy New England Patriots/Jim Mahoney.)

Dion Lewis will bring contrast with Derrick Henry, durability concerns

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dion Lewis’ role in New England wasn’t carved out quite as narrowly as we might believe based on the team’s large number of running backs.

Adam Schefter reports Lewis will agree to a four-year deal with the Titans

He was one of four Patriots backs to see significant action in 2017, leading the team with 405 snaps – 35.6 percent of the team's snaps on offense. PFF says Lewis' work was pretty evenly split between run and pass plays.

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Addition of Malcolm Butler further defines Titans' corners as tough

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The addition of free-agent Malcolm Butler further identifies the trait the Titans want in their cornerbacks.

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While Adoree’ Jackson certainly brings elite speed, the defining characteristic of their top-line trio of Butler, 

Logan Ryan and Jackson is toughness.

The addition is a giant free-agent move with giant money connected to it. We always need to see how a deal breaks down to really understand what it is worth. But Ian Rapoport’s initial reporting says it includes over $30 million guaranteed.

For those kinds of dollars, I’d expect a truly special player.

But from what scouts I know tell me, special isn’t the first word they’d attach to Butler.

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Annual message: Don't freak if the Titans don't break the bank for free agents

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The loud segment of Titans fans that is preset to bemoan a lack of spending in free agency is already at full social-media volume.

It’s my favorite thing!

I said on The Midday 180 in Tuesday that it’s a big disappointment to me that as a prominent voice covering the team I’ve failed to educate or influence enough people on the subject.

Sure, the Jaguars crushed it in 2017, layering A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell and Barry Church into their team that finally broke through and advanced to the AFC Championship Game.

But why should that now be the standard?

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My free-agent plan for the Tennessee Titans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Any underground, deep background conversations can move into the light today, as NFL teams are allowed to start courting free agents.

Wednesday, free agency officially opens at 3 p.m. CT and Jon Robinson will begin to shop, this time for Mike Vrabel, Dean Pees and Matt LaFleur.

Fans who are big-name hunters may well be disappointed, as per usual.


The Titans have roughly $63 million in cap room and many fans will insist the team is failing if it does not pour gold doubloons into the pockets of Andrew Norwell or Malcolm Butler.

Maybe they take a big swing, where Sammy Watkins and Allen Robinson could be attractive to a team lacking proven wideouts that will be playing far more three-wide receiver formations.

But I won’t have a big beef with the Titans if they are budget shoppers again.

Robinson’s free-agent batting average is hardly great, but his best finds have been reasonable values: Logan Ryan and Rishard Matthews are the headliners.

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Pickers mailbag: Free agency is not akin to college recruiting

pickers vodka 847x63NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Congratulations on making it through the darkness.

Sunday there will be extended light.

I do not want to hear a single complaint about a lost hour of sleep donated to springing ahead. Springing ahead is amazing. The payoff is huge.

I hope you didn’t miss our Periscope on Friday, but in case you did, here it is.


Send questions for this popular weekly file to @PaulKuharskyNFL on Twitter or through the member Facebook page. (Keyword there, member.)

In your mind how similar is free agency to college recruiting and will Vrabel be able to influence a player’s decision as much considering the moneyaspect? #PKMail

— The General (@mac9nj) March 9, 2018

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I don't think the Titans are really that interested in Richard Sherman

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – We now know, according to ESPN, that free-agent cornerback Richard Sherman ranks the Titans as an interested team.

What we don’t know is the degree of interest, and how that compares to the interest level of the 49ers, who Sherman is visiting already, as well as the Lions, Raiders, Texans, Buccaneers and Packers.

LewanShermanSEAESPN’s Josina Anderson reported Sherman saying those are franchises he has heard from.

As he recovers from Achilles repair, he said he wants to be with a contender. Every one of those teams can sell themselves as one, with the Bucs having the hardest case to make.

Money will certainly play a role – it always does.

But I’ve gone too long here letting those of you who are big-name hunters get excited.

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